More than a week into the legalization of recreational marijuana, many permitted retailers in the province have yet to open their doors. In fact, not a single store in Saskatoon has started to sell legal cannabis, with many citing supply issues as one of the reasons why.
The industry is expected to generate billions of dollars — which could be the motive behind one illicit company taking a big risk.
In the days following Oct. 17, Saskatchewan residents started to receive a ‘SparkCo Online Cannabis Dispensary’ brochure in the mail.
“When looking at this pamphlet initially you can see the branding right off the top,” said Adam Slobodzian, a marketing strategist with William Joseph Communications in Saskatoon. “It uses consistent fonts and nice colours throughout.”
“To have this distributed through the mail would seem extremely legitimate.”
The Cannabis Act, which came into effect on legalization day, has strict guidelines in terms of controlling the production, distribution, sale, and possession of the drug.
This also includes restrictive rules when it comes to advertising by licensed retailers so as to not entice people — particularly young people — to use marijuana.
Experts say while this is all very new for consumers, especially ones who have maybe never used cannabis before, the promotion of edibles in the SparkCo pamphlet should have set off some red flags since they’re not yet legal.
“We’re concerned that people who use cannabis as their intoxicant of choice have a safe and legal supply of it,” said Supt. Dave Haye with the Saskatoon Police Service.
The problem in Saskatchewan is that the legal pot business isn’t just budding, it’s booming. Of the stores that have opened, one of them has already shut its doors until it can get a consistent supply of cannabis.
By turning to illegal sources, however, Health Canada warns that the products provided are untested, unregulated and may be unsafe.
“When you turned to an online outlet like that (SparkCo) you don’t know what you’re getting,” Haye added.
“If fact, I emailed them directly and it was shortly after that the website closed down.”
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When Global News inquired with Health Canada about the company, it, too, said it would review the activities of the company and refer the information to law enforcement.
The bottom line is that officials advise consumers to do their homework before buying or consuming any marijuana.
“The more information you have on the topic, no matter if you are a consumer or you’re a business,” said Slobodzian.
“Learn the legislation, learn all the guidelines that around it and go visit the great resources the Government of Canada have.”